Friday, March 30, 2012

Photo Friday - Tilt Shift Generator

Have you seen those cool pictures that look like miniatures?

I tried looking up how to do it and I found out it's mostly done in Photoshop, which I don't have, but sometimes wish I did.

I kept searching and, lo and behold, there's an app for that.

The app is called Tilt Shift Generator and you can get more information on it here and here.  You can try out the free version (like I did).  In that version you have to take your photos directly IN the app and you are limited in how many you can take and how you can share them, yada, yada, yada.

Or, for 99 cents, you can buy the full version and play with images you already have and you can email them, save them, etc.

I, obviously, sprang for the full app after doing a dry run with the free version.

Here's a peek at some of my photo fun.

Original photo:

 Edited photo:

Original photo:

Revised photo:

Fun, right?

I can't wait to use this app more.  I don't have any real purpose for it, but it brings me joy.

Let me know if you try it out and what you think!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I'm learning...

...I hope.

But it ain't easy.

As I work to memorize the book of James, the scriptures are really beginning to penetrate my heart and my mind--praise the Lord!  There is so much crammed in such a small book and it is SO rich.  I happen to be doing the Beth Moore study on James, which encourages the memorization over 5 months.  Whew...I'm glad that I'm working on memorizing this over a year.  I definitely need the extra time to just meditate on the depth of these 108 verses!

Talk about zingers of truth!

I am getting cut to the very marrow of my being.  I am learning more and more how vile I am and how much I need Jesus to consume me.  I am humbled and blessed and encouraged and torn down and built up and overwhelmed and...well, it's a lot.

As Beth Moore so succinctly put it, the summary of James on faith is: LIVE IT!

When he says not to show favoritism, I am fully convicted that I show favoritism in a multitude of ways, some subtle and some glaringly obvious.

When he says the prayer offered in faith brings healing, I question if I'm praying with true faith.  Sometimes I pray kind of wishy-washy prayers because I don't know what God's will is in a specific situation.  I don't need to know...that's why I'm praying.  Duh!

When he says that the religion of someone who cannot keep a tight rein on his or her tongue is worthless, I recoil.  Seriously.  It's not mediocre.  It's not alright.  It's WORTHLESS.

When he says to ask God for wisdom, okay...I do that consistently.  But when he says to believe when you ask and not complete honesty I do often have some doubt.

Have you ever seen the movie "The Polar Express"?  Well, I am learning that I'm "the doubter".


Believe me...I can relate to Thomas (a.k.a. DOUBTING Thomas).

Now, let me explain.  I don't doubt God.  I don't doubt that He gives generously to all of His children.  I don't doubt that He is omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent.  I don't doubt that He can do anything and everything that He wants and that He can use anyone or anything that He wants to, when He wants to.

What I DO myself.  I guess this study of the book of James is revealing to me that I don't really have a firm grasp of my identity in Jesus Christ.  I thought I did.  I am also reading "Absolute Surrender" and recently read "Intimacy with the Almighty".  Both have reinforced that I regularly fail to claim the full victory and power that God has given me through Jesus Christ to do His work.  Sure, I have been claiming some of the victory and some of the power; I just haven't been claiming all that He's offering.  God can use my prayers, offered in faith, to bring healing.  God will give me His wisdom when I believe Him for it and I search Him and His word for it.  God will rein in my tongue if I am willing to surrender it to Him.  God will completely consume my heart if I surrender it fully to Him.

I pray this year will be revolutionary in my life.  I pray that God will change me to be more like Him.  I must decrease and He must increase.

Oh, my.  I have so much to learn.  I will always have more to learn.  I pray God will never quench my thirst to learn more of Him and I pray for His empowerment to absorb it all.

Monday, March 26, 2012

James Memorization Accountability

If you remember, I wrote about how my hubby and I are trying to memorize the entire book of James (Bible) over here.  Well, as a follow-up, below I am going to type out, FROM MEMORY, chapter one.  This week we are beginning our work on chapter two.  In advance, I am asking you to forgive my poor punctuation and any jumbled up words.  Midway through the chapter I switched versions of the NIV to memorize from (yes, there are different versions of the NIV...and the one I began memorizing from changed after I started).  So here I go:

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:  Greetings.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

But when you ask you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position because he will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

When tempted no one should say, "God is tempting me."  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.  But when tempted, each person is dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.  Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not bring about the righteousness that God so desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself to be religious but does not keep a tight rein on his tongue deceives himself, and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


Let's did I do?  Well, I definitely missed / changed some punctuation and there are a few places where I used a couple different words (like bring about instead of produce).  The one verse I still managed to get the gist of but really jumbled up is highlighted now.  All-in-all, not too bad...definitely not perfect.  It's a work in progress by the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  Praise to God, alone!

Let's bring on chapter two!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cherish Your Time

(Image from here)

A couple days ago I had a very scary morning with my G-O baby.  It was a whirlwind of a morning, but everything turned out fine.  Praise the Lord!

Suffice it to say that it made me even more thankful for each day of life I get and for each breath I get to share with my loved ones.  I hope I haven't taken for granted any of the time I've been blessed to share with my husband or my daughter, although I'm sure I have.  I'm just so humbled and full of gratitude.

James 4:14 says, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

I know what it's like to lose a loved one.  I also know how it makes you remember how fleeting life really is and how important it is to truly cherish every moment with loved ones...and how, over time, that sense of urgency is supplanted once again with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

So, for now, I want to treasure each breath, savor each smile, love each laugh, and reflect once again on what really matters--relationships.  May you be inspired to do the same.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

That's Pinteresting! - Growth Chart

I did not have one of those childhoods where your family has roots in a community and you grow up in one house in the same neighborhood with lifelong friends.

We were more like nomads...moving from apartment to apartment, city to city.

Don't get me wrong.  One upbringing is not better than the other.  I enjoyed many benefits from moving fairly often.

One of the things that I missed out on, though, was the stereotypical markings in a door frame to note your growth through the years.  You know what I'm talking about?  They often show it in family-type movies.  I know it's such a small thing, but it became kind of a symbol to me of growing up in a real community.  It's not just in the movies, either.  I remember going over to friends' houses and seeing the markings on their walls or doorways noting the dates, ages, and names of the kids as they grew.  It always held a special place in my heart--dunno why.

Being a new mommy in a metropolitan area, knowing that odds are we'll move several times, I still want a way to track our family's growth.  I just need something portable.  I found this growth chart on Pinterest:

(The Brimfield Growth Chart by Karen on Etsy, found here)

My hubby was trying to purchase it for my birthday earlier this year, but it was back-ordered.  Being impatient and all, I decided to try and make my own personalized version.

Off I went to JoAnn's (again), with coupons in hand.  I knew the growth chart above was printed on artist's canvas.  I had already looked at rolls of primed canvas, but knew I would never get around to using that the price was way too high for my smaller project.  Instead, I purchased a half-yard of 60" outdoor canvas and asked the cutter to cut it in two equal pieces (each piece finishing 60" long by 9" wide).  Woo-hoo!  I now had the basic fabric for my custom growth chart.

At first, I thought I might use iron-on transfer paper.  I bought a pack at Michael's (using another coupon), but after a quick test learned that the white areas that are not cut off the transfer remain completely opaque and glaringly white.  Bummer.  The font I planned to use had WAY TOO MANY jagged edges to make that a hassle-free endeavor.

So then I tried permanent marker on another scrap.  Nope.  It bleeds.  A LOT.  Lastly, I tried acrylic craft paint.

It worked.

So here's what I did: 1) I stitched the two pieces of canvas together on one seam, short-sides together to make one really long strip of canvas. 2) I used stitch-witchery to iron seams on all sides to keep the fabric from fraying.

3) I used pencil to mark out the inches on each long side of the canvas and to freehand the numbers at each foot mark. 4) I hand-painted the measure marks, numbers, and letters on our growth chart.  Here's the finished product.

I still need to decide how I want to hang it, but that's for another day.  Right now I'm just thrilled I got it done.  (That's a big accomplishment right now...)

I gotta say, I'm actually really pleased with how it turned out!  We now have a portable growth chart, specialized for our little family that coordinates with our style--and is 100% unique and handmade with love.  It's not professional by any means, but I kinda like that about it.  I can't wait to find the perfect place to hang it in our *hopefully* new place.  Hurrah!  I get to start a new tradition with my family.

I love it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A shiny, new dress

I was perusing the web for photo ideas for Baby G-O's one year shoot and I stumbled upon these precious pictures:

(Photo by Rachel Richard Photography, found on etsy here)

(Much larger photo from rmrr21 found here)

What struck me about these pictures are how the olive green and bright teal colors make the girls' features pop.  They especially stood out because my little G-O baby has gorgeous hazel eyes.  Her irises are rimmed in blue that transitions to green, which further transitions to brown around her pupils.  With that said, a peacock headband and a blue/green/brown outfit would really make her sparkle.

So, then I began looking at peacock headbands to buy.  The headband above is $19 on etsy, which really isn't bad...I just didn't want to spend that much on an accessory that my little girl will likely mangle and won't wear longer than a couple minutes these days.

Then I looked at ruffly little rompers like this one:

(By Cheeky Chic Baby on etsy, found here)

The romper is absolutely adorable--again, I just don't want to spend $45, plus shipping.  That and, once I pinned it on Pinterest, I got so many repins of it that I knew lots and LOTS of precious tots would soon be dressed up in the same outfit.  Sigh.  I wanted something more unique.

So, I was strolling through JoAnn's and I happened upon some clearance silk taffeta in just the right colors.  I snapped up the remnants on the spot.  Honestly, I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I figured I just got a new sewing machine for Christmas and I might find a pattern or...who knows?

Well, I finally did something with them.  Now, please go easy on me.  I only had a few hours this last Saturday to whip up something.  I did not have a pattern and I am a total novice.  Sure, I took a costuming class in college...but we never made anything.  We just learned a couple basic stitches and sewed straight lines on one single piece of fabric.  End of sewing lesson.

Knowing that, I did not attempt any kind of tutorial.  I didn't even measure anything.  I eye-balled my fabric pieces by holding up the uncut pieces of fabric to my constantly moving G-O baby and then made sure my cuts matched.  However, I knew I wanted to fashion something that could grow with my baby girl and that could be layered so it could work in any kind of weather.  That led me to go for more of a bib-style dress with tie-shoulders and elastic at an empire waist.

Working without a pattern, start to finish (with several breaks to do diaper changes, feed snacks, make lunch, etc.) it took me about four hours to make this, including time spent ironing along the way.  Here's what I ended up with:

I didn't get a photo of my little one in it yet, but it looks cute.  Right now, the dress is more of a floor-length gown, which I love.  As she grows, we can always layer it over a sleeved shirt and adjust the shoulder ties for comfort.  I can always remove or adjust the elastic in the casing as needed, too.

Oh, and I failed to mention that I found a great peacock headpiece at JoAnn's that same day and I made a headband for under $10.  I haven't snapped any photos of it yet, either.  I'll try to remember to update this post with pictures of the headband...but I can't make any promises.  These next few weeks are going to be non-stop for our household.  Whew.

Update: Here's a quick snapshot of the peacock headband.  Not too shabby, eh?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Photo Friday - Eleven Months Old!

I can't believe how quickly this last month has gone by!  Baby G-O is now eleven months old.
I confess I am a bit sad.  I know this is the very last month before my baby girl turns one year old.  As I snapped several shots of her on her eleven-month birthday, I couldn't help but keep thinking it was the last time I would do it before she was one.  There's something sentimental about knowing your child has gracefully transitioned from one month to the next during her first year of life.  It's also a little bittersweet.  I have cherished every moment, but they were still so fleeting.  I wish I could just slow time down to enjoy each new milestone, each expression, each tender cuddle just a little bit longer.
All that being said, my oh so big little girl is now eleven months old.
Baby G-O, you continue to amaze your daddy and I every day.  You are adding so many more inflections and sounds to your vocabulary and you are trying to copy what we say more and more.  You are also mimicking us all the time and you are learning by leaps and bounds.  When I leave the room and turn the door handle, Daddy tells me you follow and reach to try to turn the handle to come with me.  When I record you on our little video camera, you pay attention and hit the exact same button I used to start it and you end up stopping the recording.  When I showed you how to use your hair brush, you immediately copied the movements and began brushing.
All this learning is also getting you into some mischief.  You now know how to open all our lidded trash cans and consider each of them to be a trove of hidden treasures.  Your curiosity gets the better of you and any time we block you from getting into something that could be dangerous or hugely messy, you attack the target that much more vigorously.  We know it's the explorer and adventurer in you and we are so blessed to watch your desire to learn blossom.
Mommy and Daddy especially love that books are some of your favorite "toys".  At least once a day you pull books off your shelves or out of your bins and just sit quietly, flipping through the pages and pointing at the pictures.  You are particularly fond of the Bible.  Any Bible.  Your Bible, Mommy's Bible, Daddy's're not choosy.  I don't know what it is you love about them--maybe it's the smooth, light-weight pages?  Then again, we've prayed for you to have a love of God's Word, so perhaps that's it.
You've also recently become quite the Mama's girl.  You want to be wherever I am--at ALL times.  You can go from a smiley and happy girl to a blubbering mess of tears in 2.5 seconds if Mommy leaves the room to fetch something and is out of your sight line for the briefest time.
We love you, Darling! We are so proud of you and we are humbled and honored to be your parents.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

That's Pinteresting! - Words

I like quotes and I love scripture.  I hope to someday hang some of these pieces of word art on my walls.  So much to do, so little time to do it all.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fabulous find!

I've been looking at little slides recently.  Slides like this one that I saw at Target a couple weeks back.
It's $50, so I wanted to shop around a bit.  Now, as I've mentioned before, my little G-O baby is not too much of a napper these days. So when we find ourselves in the car and she drifts off to sleep, I sometimes drive around our neighborhood a little bit so she can get a few extra winks.  (I know from experience that I can't get her out of the car and in to our place without her waking up and staying up.  Plus, I drive a hybrid, so I don't feel too bad about a short drive.)

The other day, was one such day.  This time, as we drove around the neighborhood, I came across a pile of stuff set out by the curb.  I was about to drive right past it when something caught my eye: a toddler slide!

I quickly parked the car right next to the stack of stuff and hopped out for a peek at the slide.  It looked to be in pretty good condition--just faded from time spent out in the sunlight.  I loaded it up and figured I could take a much closer look at it back home.  If there was something wrong with it that I didn't spot, I could always dispose of it myself.  Also, if for some reason our little sweetie didn't like it, but it was in great working order, we could always donate it to our church nursery or any of the many young families we know.

Turns out it is in great shape and our little G-O baby loves it!  See for yourself:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Photo Friday - Daddy's Girl!

Papa bear gets the privilege of being the pinch blogger for this edition of "Photo Friday".  I often am a man of few words, so I thought I would let these pictures tell the story for me.  Our little girl turns one year old in a little over a month.  Here are a few of my favorite daddy daughter photos from her first year, and a few others that just make me smile.  I hope they make you smile too.